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Obama moves to end “moral” opt-out for health care providers

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The President of the United States has moved to overturn regulations that allow doctors, nurses and others to refuse to treat people who they disapprove of on “moral” grounds.

Barack Obama’s administration has begun the repeal process for the Department of Health and Human Services regulations regarding “provider conscience,” a last-ditch effort by his predecessor to “protect” medical professionals.

The regulations were rushed through the regulatory process by the previous administration and took effect just days before President Bush left office. They also applied to  institutional healthcare providers that receive certain federal funds.

They were supported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Protestant Evangelical groups.

The Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights group, commended the Obama administration.

“The regulations purport to interpret federal law to allow a health care provider to refuse to provide any health care service or information for a religious or moral reason,” an HRC spokesperson said.

“These regulations could impair LGBT patients’ access to care services if interpreted to permit providers to choose patients based upon sexual orientation, gender identity or family structure.

“The regulations also threaten women’s access to comprehensive health care by permitting pharmacists to refuse to dispense contraception even when doing so significantly burdens the patient’s access, or to refuse to participate in an emergency abortion even when the woman’s health is at risk.

“The regulations override many state laws protecting patients’ access to medical services.

“We are encouraged that the Department of Health and Human Services will be conducting a thorough review of these regulations.”

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